One of my first tasks when I started my new pastorate three years ago was helping our church get up to speed with our use of technology. When I walked into my new office on the first day, I found an old metal cart with stacks of multi-colored VeggieTales VHS tapes. On the bookshelves were boxes containing cassette tapes from 1995 which claimed to offer “the latest and best method for small groups for your church!” Other rooms had old VHS players(!) and printers sitting in the corner collecting dust, as well as several piles of old cables that nobody could remember what they belonged to.
Those early days were a lot of fun, not only clearing out all of the old, unused technology, but also helping our church embrace new technology to minister in this technologically advanced world. It took some time and effort, but three years later we finally have a social media presence (which now is really firing on all cylinders thanks to the newest member of our staff), domain name email addresses, online giving, a church management software, electronic children’s check-in, and now…well, like everyone else, livestreaming.
What I learned about our church in those early days wasn’t so much that our members were resistant to technology. Technology wasn’t ignored because it was feared, but because gathering in person was valued so much that new forms of technology just hadn’t really been thought about. In other words, our church so prized the embodied gathering of the saints that technology was always thought of as something that would be nice to have, not something that was essential.
Churches across the globe are finding themselves in a really interesting place. Now that Christians can no longer gather in person (and for good reason), technology has never been more essential to keep ministry going. Yet the real, tangible, and embodied gathering of the church has never been more valued in this generation.
Why? Because we really miss each other. Continue Reading
My family recently moved to a new neighborhood near our church. From the outside, this neighborhood is seen as one of the better neighborhoods in our county. It is perceived as being full of neighbors who are close and intimate with one another – a community that has been relatively untouched by the slow erosion of neighborhoods happening all around us. I moved into this neighborhood with great anticipation, eager to be greeted by our new neighbors upon our arrival. After all, it’s really easy to “love your neighbor” when they love you first, right? I secretly hoped this new neighborhood would make my task of following Jesus convenient and comfortable.
Weeks and months went by without much interaction from any of our neighbors – until I finally met a nice woman who lives a few doors down from me. She and her husband have been living in the same house in this neighborhood for almost 40 years! She began to tell me about all of the other neighbors and how long they have lived here (some for 20, 30, or 40 years as well). I asked her how often they get together as neighbors for meals or other events. Sadly, she told me that while they used to get together often, they have not done so in a very long time. When I asked her why, she couldn’t point to any reason. They just don’t.
Even the strongest of our neighborhoods and small communities have not been untouched by the many fractures eroding the foundations of our neighborly relationships. How can Christians respond to the failing health of communities and the polarization of tribalism in our culture when we hardly know other church members, let alone our next-door neighbors? Continue Reading
I’ve recently been receiving physical therapy to treat ongoing knee pain I’ve had the last few years. During my first evaluation, my physical therapist simply observed me while I walked back and forth in his studio. He quickly pointed out that I’ve been overcompensating to my left leg for so long that my right leg and hip are basically unengaged while I walk. The first thing we had to work on was learning to get my right leg engaged again.
We progressed to a point after several weeks where my physical therapist was able to observe me while I ran. It turns out that my stride is all messed up. The problems with the stride in my legs had little to do with the legs themselves, but much to do with how I used my arms while I was running. His exact words were that while I have full movement with my right arm, “You’re doing a T-Rex thing with your left arm.” This was causing a lot of uneven rotation in my legs while I ran, which put a lot of pressure on my knee.
You see, while I thought problems in my knee meant that I only needed to focus on fixing my knee, it turns out that my whole body is more connected than I first thought. Pain and dysfunction in this one part of my body reflects how poorly the rest of my body is functioning.
The body metaphor is a common one that is used to describe the Church in the New Testament. We are one body with many members, and each part is essential to the whole (1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Ephesians 4:11-16, etc.). These verses contain great wisdom in how we can find our place within this body, and how this body is meant to grow together. Continue Reading
It is a hobby of mine as I read to take some of my favorite quotes and create some fun corresponding graphics to share with others. I hesitate to call it graphic design since I hardly know what I am doing! Every Friday I share some of these quotes and graphics with you. Feel free to share or use of any of them. I wouldn’t mind the shout out if you do.
This week’s quotes come from Gerald Schlabach, Derek Thompson, the Valley of Vision, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.